One of the purposes of research is to establish a foundation of prior knowledge for future experiments to engage and extrapolate before proposing a new design that will further the field. This is important; without an understanding of what came before, research runs the risk of reinventing the wheel, or even (worse yet) coming up with something more rudimentary than the wheel.
In my days of teaching creative writing, it used to be quite the stressor to get smart, motivated teenagers to take notes of their plots and characters. These were students used to doing everything right and being able to beat the system just with what was stored in their heads. I explained that creative writing was not about beating a system, and the more complex a story and a group of characters became, the more important it was to create a system where you could record those complexities so you could return to it as the story developed. Some listened right away and got to work. Some needed trial and error before coming to me so we could devise strategies. Some never listened and became increasingly frustrated. In the end, it was more likely for someone from the first or second group to have a coherent, rich story than someone from the third group.
I think about this as I read more literature on the history of MOOCs as described by the MOOC creators. Continue reading →
The due course of education in America is linked to public policy. This has existed on the state and federal level for over 100 years (well over); however, it is only in the last 30+ that there has been a federal department dedicated to education. Too often it seems that people within their own disciplines ignore societal factors and stressors when debating the merits of their discipline. This happens in education, an enterprise subsidized by governmental monies (to a shrinking degree, however). We cannot debate movements in education without looking at politics.
At the same time, politicians and policy hawks need a firm understanding of education if they are going to pitch for a model or debate a movement. Rhetoric and hyperbole only go so far, and ignorance of the theories, pedagogies and history of learning can cause great harm.
My Twitter network shot out an education article published by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C. Written by Alex Tabbarok, it’s title, Why Online Education Works, foreshadows a lack of historical perspective of both online and education (#cfhe12). The artifact is an important representation of existing thought in the political world, and with that I will dive in:
Back to the theoretical grind, I was alerted to a research article on heutagogy as an alternative to andragogy. If that sentence is full of ambiguous words, it was for me too — both are theories of learning relating to adult education, a field in edu which supposes that adults learn in a manner different from children (which is a lot to suppose, but makes sense at first glance). While MOOC marketing departments have heralded the xMOOC’s ability to let an intrepid 12 year old take a Stanford course in computer programming (and, as a field, we need to see how Code Academy fits into the MOOC archetype), the history behind MOOCs comes either from traditional higher education (xMOOC) or distance education designed for higher education (cMOOC). Because traditional higher ed is seeing an upward shift in median age of student (and distance ed has always seen an older student population than in traditional ed), the theory the MOOC movement built on (or will build upon) needs to account for an adult population. Not surprisingly, little of the little MOOC research flows down this path. That leaves it to us to research, code and crunch. Getting into the work by Lisa Marie Blaschke… Continue reading →
I recently posted a response to a research paper by Terry Anderson which looked at the various modes of interaction across learning platforms and spaces. Among the important and interesting notes was Anderson’s assertion that high quality learning could happen if one of three interactions (student-student, student-teacher or student-content) was of a high quality, regardless of the quality of the other two. Yet in my reading of Anderson’s work, I saw him continue to discuss student-student interactions with great importance, moreso than he gave to student-teacher or student-content. This ties into some existing learning theory popular today, most notably social learning theory (though, to be general, the Canadians like to call it social cognition) via Bandura (and Vygotsky’s social development theory). Continue reading →
Keeping up with MOOC thoughts via Twitter (as best I can):
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and MOOCs: From September 19, Audrey Watters looks at reasons behind some colleges (quoting Ohio State University) adopting the xMOOC as a course module and potential revenue stream; the quote from the OSU president states that he does not want his school to end up too far behind the other schools involved in xMOOCs such as Coursera. This is a theme that has popped up occasionally over the past 12 months…institutions are afraid to be left behind and perhaps rendered irrelevant in a xMOOC world. I wonder if there were similar fears when correspondence courses started incorporating radio and video all those years ago. Continue reading →